Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Steeleye Span - Birchmere - September 22 2009

Steeleye Span - I have to admit that although it certainly has its good points, the Birchmere is the Branson of rock clubs. Wow are these crowds getting older by the moment--you can almost see the aging right in front of you like some bad Star Trek episode. Hippies with canes? Amazing. Although I walk very quickly, I feel like I can walk twice as fast as half the crowd at least and I am not young. But anyway, on to seeing on of my favorite bands and the last of the "Big Three" of British Folk-Rock that I had yet to see (Fairport Convention and Pentangle being the other two). I see Maddy Prior on vocals and Peter Knight of violin as the key members present. Clearly that is Liam Genocky on drums who has worked with them off on for a number of years in recent times. I later find out that is Ken Nicol on guitar and Pete Zorn on bass (not Rick Kemp who was too ill). Both of these guys are from the same scene and have played with them, so this is a pretty credible line-up and even the absolutely first original Steeleye Span (present on the first album) has never played together live. Maddy's voice doesn't push too much early on but grew a bit fuller as the songs kept coming. They covered a lot of territory and to my mind, hit on some recent and/or lesser material a bit too often. I did love the old songs like "Blacksmith", "When I was on Horseback" and "Lovely on the Water" with its stunning vocals, moody folk arrangement and great mandolin by Knight. Knight was in great form on violin, mandolin and vocals and I don't think the band would work if he were to leave. They broke up the show into two sets, had some nice stage patter and played well. When it worked, it soared to the heights I look for in this music. Glad to see them finally.

Quote of the Night: Maddie Prior describing the lyrics to Tam Lin-- "...the man was a shapeshifter, so he became a snake, an ogre, a wild bull, all of these things designed to make her let go, release her love and keep the spell on. That's the sort of metaphor that speaks to my marital experiences."

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